Plane trips provide a tantalizing bird’s-eye glimpse of the world’s geographical wonders. For voyagers who want more information on the mountains, rivers, and plains below them, a geology student named Shane Loeffler developed an app called Flyover Country that's now available for free download.
According to Smithsonian, Flyover Country works with a phone’s GPS, and uses maps and information from scientific databases to identify land features miles away. A map tags the features you’re seeing from your window, and you can pull up cached Wikipedia pages to learn about a given peak or body of water.
Loeffler received a National Science Foundation grant to develop the app while studying at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He and a team of geologists at the University of Minnesota are now working on adding more information to the app. Their end goal is for geologists and paleontologists to upload their fieldwork research to create a massive, ever-changing Earth science database.
The app works best in cloudless skies. (The Flyover Country team does hope to tap a meteorologist at some point to write an article about clouds and how they form, so even a cloud-filled view can be a learning opportunity.) For more information, check out Flyover Country’s website, or read Smithsonian’s full interview with Loeffler online.